Facebook Twitter

Cahuilla/Serrano Elder Ernest Siva of Morongo Named 11th Spirit of the Heard Award Recipient

The Heard Museum is proud to present its 11th annual Spirit of the Heard award to Ernest H. Siva (Cahuilla/Serrano) of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians for his work in preserving Native American Indian cultures, languages, history, and the arts. The ceremony will take place during the Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Awards on Nov. 4 at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“We are honored to bestow this award upon Ernest Siva for his lifetime accomplishments in sharing his deep knowledge of Serrano and Cahuilla language, culture and musical heritage with both Native and non-Native communities,” says James Pepper Henry (Kaw/Muscogee Creek), director and CEO of the Heard.

Siva was born and raised on the Morongo Indian Reservation just west of Palm Springs, California. A member of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, he has dedicated his life to the transmission of Southern California Indian cultures through his education, career and volunteerism. Siva has taught Native culture across Southern California including the University of California, Los Angeles. He serves as a guest artist and scholar in California indigenous cultures and languages at California State University, San Bernardino. 

“I am humbled and honored to receive this wonderful award from one of the country’s most recognized institutions for promoting public understanding of Native American culture and heritage through art,” Siva said.

Siva is also an acclaimed musician and ethno-musicologist as well as a revered elder of the Morongo community who is deeply involved in community life and education arts. One of the last remaining speakers of the Serrano language, he has worked tirelessly to restore indigenous languages. He has served as tribal historian and cultural adviser for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians since 1996.

In 2003, he cofounded with his wife June, the nonprofit, Dorothy Ramon Learning Center in Banning, and he serves as its president. The center has been instrumental in saving and sharing Southern California’s Native American cultures and advancing discovery, understanding, and continuance of tribal cultures. He is artistic director of the Pass Chorale, a community chorus, and is an active member of the CSUSB College of Arts and Letters Community Leaders Board.

“It's because of Ernest and his wife, June, that the Serrano language hasn't completely vanished and is being taught today in the Morongo School,” Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin said.

“Ernest’s lifelong commitment to preserving our cultural identity, history and language has helped keep our heritage and values alive for future generations. His devotion to protecting our past and sharing its richness with others have made him a role model to Native American youth everywhere.”

Tickets to the Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Award Ceremony are available for $50 each until Oct. 19, after which the price will be $60. To purchase tickets, contact the Phoenix Indian Center at 602.264.6768 or visit phxindcenter.org.



Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014; 6 p.m. (During the Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Award ceremony)

Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas
6333 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85250-5428

Heard Museum – Native Cultures and Art
2301 North Central Ave., Phoenix, Ariz.  85004-1323
602.252.8840 or visit heard.org
Join us! 


About the Heard

Since 1929, the Heard Museum, a private non-profit organization, has enchanted visitors from around the world with the art, culture and history of American Indians, with an emphasis on tribes of the Southwest. With more than 40,000 fine artworks and cultural artifacts in its permanent collection, 12 long-term and changing exhibit galleries, an education center, an award-winning Shop, the Books & More boutique bookstore, Coffee Cantina and Courtyard Café, the Heard Museum is a place of learning, discovery and unforgettable experiences.

Exhibit, event and program funding are provided in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Arizona Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities
and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.